When we first wrote of Fire/Rescue TV back in Sept. /12, Martin Grube, founder with co-owner Ernie Hux was full of enthusiasm for the new product, was displaying three channels with a fourth soon to be announced, and was using third party software from a small east-cast company.Well, things didn’t quite pan out exactly as planned, so the company took a look at what wasn’t working well, scaled right back, got its ducks in a row and relaunched last week at the Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis.
Fire Rescue TV is a digital signage network delivering training videos, news and a messaging platform in fire stations.
The biggest change Fire/Rescue TV made was to create its own digital signage software – oh my, please NOT more digital signage software, Ed, and to become a turnkey operation, offering content management, content, advertising sales, installation and service, only buying its 42” commercial screens from a third party.
“The biggest problem we had was that the software we were using couldn’t support the messaging we wanted,” says Grube. “As a former fire fighter, I knew exactly what I wanted and how I wanted it to work. We’ve now developed our own digital signage software in-house, and it’s working flawlessly. We’ve already installed it in a dozen locations and expect to be in several hundred stations right across the U.S. by the end of Q3, 2014.”
Another change Grube has made is to concentrate specifically on the fire/rescue channel and, to a lesser extent, the firehouse-themed restaurant channel, putting plans for a law enforcement channel, a public safety channel and waiting room channel (eg. in auto-repair shops) on the back burner for now.
The fire/rescue channel carries 20% advertising which is strictly from the dozens of manufacturers of equipment used by firemen and rescue personnel. Product placement is also possible. Editorial includes safety messages, training information, firehouse cooking, plus news submitted by some 150 fire and rescue personnel ‘reporters’ who send in news and photographs of local fires and more. And there is the weather and a FIMA widget. Editing is done in-house and Grube expects to hire at least three new editors in the near future.
“We’re moving into a brand new building in Virginia Beach in about three weeks and then will start increasing our staff,” says Grube. “We want build slowly, methodically and safely. After all we’re all about saving lives. This is a niche vertical and we are determined to do it right.”
So far there are only two locations for the firehouse-themed restaurants channel, one in South Carolina and another about to launch in St. Louis, Missouri. These, of course, are open to regular national and local advertisers such as food, beverage and more.
“We have lots of potential for growth,” Grube told us when we first interviewed him. “There are 64,000 fire stations and 33,000 EMS centres in the U.S. alone.”